Have you ever thought that you were pregnant and did a pregnancy test a day or even a few days after unprotected sex? You’re certainly not alone, as the temptation to do a pregnancy test kicks in barely 24 hours after unprotected sex. However, to get an accurate result, a missed period or two weeks after unprotected sex is the ideal time for a pregnancy test. If you decide to test early, you might get a false negative.

Meet the Expert: Dr. Diana Rangaves writes for 21Ninety’s as a health and wellness expert. She is a pharmacist, philanthropist, and ethics professor turned writer, holding a Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of California. She also serves as the Executive Editor and Chief Content Officer for Healthcare Worldwide Central and has published several works in medical and pharmaceutical publications, academic books, as well as, scholarly articles.

What Happens To My Body After Unprotected Sex?

As soon as you have unprotected sex, pregnancy wouldn’t occur immediately, as fertilization must happen first. This is when the egg produced by your body joins with the sperm to form a zygote, which usually happens in your fallopian tube. It takes a few days for the egg to grow and travel to the uterus for implantation.

Upon implantation, your body releases human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) hormones. This is the primary hormone that a blood or urine test detects to confirm a pregnancy. This process may take up to 14 days. If you have irregular periods, the best time to test for pregnancy is three to four weeks after having unprotected sex.

In instances where you have had unprotected sex and do not want to get pregnant, it is advisable to get an emergency contraceptive as soon as possible to reduce the chances of pregnancy. It would help if you also considered getting a long-term form of contraception. This will give you peace of mind and reduce any pregnancy anxiety.

How Do Pregnancy Tests Work?

There are two main ways to test for pregnancy: a urine test or a blood test. A urine test is the most common, as it provides results instantly and can be purchased at your nearest pharmacy. All you need to do is urinate on the stick and wait for the results, though it can be a nerve-wracking wait.

For a blood test, you will need to visit a hospital to get it done. A blood test has more accuracy than a urine test; you would know if you are pregnant before your missed period. However, receiving the results will take longer, between a few hours and three days.

Both of these tests check the HCG levels produced upon implantation. Therefore, if you are pregnant, you will get positive results. If not, the results will read negative. 

What Is the Accuracy of Pregnancy Tests?

In case you are torn between a blood test, which might take longer to confirm results, or a home test kit, home pregnancy test kits are confirmed to have an accuracy of 99% if used correctly. Make sure that you follow the instructions as written on the pregnancy kit. The recommended time for the test is in the morning when you have not taken too many fluids, which might dilute your urine.

In some cases, you might take the test and get a negative result, and yet you have missed your period. Do not hesitate to take another test or visit your doctor, who will recommend a blood test for a more accurate result. Remember, the best time for a pregnancy test is usually after a missed period, as this is one of the early signs of pregnancy.

It is important to note that a false positive is also possible. Some medications, such as tranquilizers and fertility drugs, may cause false positives, and again, if you are feeling unsure, a blood test would be the best option.

What if I Am Not Ready To Get Pregnant?

The anxiety after having unprotected sex and its accompanying constant worry can be avoided by using protection like condoms or birth control. You should visit a medical practitioner who will give you all the options and help you decide what is best. In cases where you find yourself in this situation unplanned, the morning-after pill is an option as well

A pregnancy test, whether blood or urine, taken after a missed period or around 14 days, is the only sure way to confirm a pregnancy. If you want an earlier confirmation, a blood test would be best around nine days after unprotected sex. If you get the test done earlier, remember there is the risk of getting false results. Therefore, in case you have had unprotected sex, hang on for a few days before you take the test.